Spotlight on - Natalia Nicholson
At Spotlight, we got the opportunity to talk to Natalia Nicholson CEO of Straight Talk To Success. Natalia chatted to us about being a young entrepreneur, following your dreams. What it takes to start a business and remembering not to measure yourself by other peoples standards.
Today I am a multi-preneur. This passion for business has been with me since the age of 14.
As a child, I used to watch Knotts Landing and the Colbys and I would say to my mum that I was going to be a businesswoman one day and earn enough money to look after her. It was a cultural thing. I am from West Indian heritage and I grew up in a predominantly white area. I went through a stage of not understanding who I was and where my place was in the world.
I detested the way in which people told me that I would have to work harder because of the colour of my skin, I didn’t understand that concept and I just thought, “no I don’t, why?” In the time that I grew up, it was very culturally different from what it’s like now.
My first business idea was to launch an A to Z book/e-commerce called PassioNet for people to find out who they are. As a person of colour, we don’t really know about who we are because much of our history was deleted. After PassionNet, I got myself into a whole load of debt and lost my property portfolio.
I then launched my own domestic and commercial cleaning business, which was my first successful business. This got me out of a hole. It was through this that I won a major contract that helped to elevate me. But it felt like I was a slave to myself and I didn’t like it. I started it as a means to an end, but I had no passion for it, so eventually I sold that business.
After being in the game of business for almost 20 years, I have thrown away the rulebook.
I no longer have the worry, as in the corporate world, to keep investors happy.
What made you choose this career/industry?
I began my entrepreneurial journey as a coach because of my passion for helping marketers and businesses. What determines the success of each business is unique. So each business needs to understand the leads, conversations and sales that are necessary to get ahead, regardless of its market sector. This is what pushed me to become a coach – so that I could teach the very people that I am proud to be a part of. I became a pioneer in coaching by combining my background as an entrepreneur with my graduate-level education in Marketing & Business. Based in Essex, London, I am now a 40-year-old inspirational force, who embraces life and just wants others to succeed in business as well.
But it wasn’t so easy to get here! At the age of 21, I obtained a graduate professional qualification. I overcame my own personal challenges of dyslexia throughout my educational journey. At the beginning of my journey, I felt like I had overcome the failure of various new ventures to become a successful entrepreneur.
After reading stories of great pioneers, I concentrated on both making my own business success and channelling my determination, passion and drive. My first business model replicated an Amazon inspired e-commerce website that sold a range of A - Z cultural books.
The intention was to inspire people across various cultures to understand and appreciate their background from a cultural perspective. I wanted to reach out to individuals who may not have had access to the inspirational books that I had been fortunate to read. I wished to provide them with some of the magic I had found within their pages.
A few years later, I lost everything, including my home and my confidence. It was through losing my dreams that I thought deeply about the core skills I could use to navigate my way to another path for my future. I considered my options, they had to be ones which would only require a limited investment. And voila! I started a Cleaning Company because of the minimal set-up costs. This was my first business success, which had half a million turnover in 2 years. While this was challenging, it taught me about people, processes and standards. It gave me the ability to understand others, whatever their race, religion, gender or sexuality. I learned to find common ground with everyone.
Now, I have an E-commerce site selling candles and an inspirational gift shop that I manufacture products for. I’m officially an Amazon Seller, Property Investor and Online Course Salesperson. I then decided to focus and build on the skills that I have developed, with an itch to share them with others. This is how my digital marketing agency, Straight Talk To Success, was born.
What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?
Giving it back, paying it forward: I have tried and I have failed. I have learned and I have improved. It’s this ongoing cycle of trying, testing, adapting and evolving and I don’t want other underrepresented groups to have to endure all I did when I can pass on knowledge to make others journeys easier. I want to build and be a part of a community that empowers and builds generational wealth. I come from a community where this is not common.
What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
At the young age of 14, I could never articulate what financial freedom was. I always knew I was going to be successful and wealthy, but I just did not know how. You see, success in the world that I was brought up in was measured by money and materialism alone. I did not understand what wealth was until much later in life. Growing up, I was taught that to get rich you would have to work hard, get an education, and get a job in law, the government, NHS, or any big corporate organisation that will provide you with a good pension.
My Mum and Dad were born in Jamaica and migrated to the UK in the 1960s. Their expectations were, they would be coming to the promised land of riches and would have a better quality of life. For them, it was like hitting the jackpot; they could provide for their children, ensure we lived in a nice, clean house in a decent area, and still go on holiday every year. What I never understood at that age was that they spent more than they earned.
They were building a line of credit in order to afford a lifestyle and quality of life for their children that they otherwise could not afford, and one day this would cause them to lose some of their assets. For that, I am truly grateful because they gave me the vision and understanding that the world is full of opportunities. However, I would need to continue to improve their blueprint for my children. I would need to teach them how to build their own wealth, so they do not have to live beyond their means.
Life lessons and tips
Grit & Tenacity - If you get knocked down your desire needs to be strong enough to keep getting back up no matter how many times things don’t go according to plan.
To anyone looking to start their career mt tips would be:
Be clear on your business model and the scalability of it. Think about systemising and automating elements of your business first, not everything needs human manpower.
Think of how you can run your business (or parts of it) without doing the tasks yourself. Does your model allow your business to run without you if anything were to happen to you tomorrow?
Also think about your personal goals and what you want from life, as this will alter how you do things too.
This journey is not for the swift it for those that can endure - Do not let anyone tell you can't and don’t limit your beliefs - If you know you can, you can! Entrepreneurism is a craft, it’s a spirit that lives within you that is fierce and will not stop at anything, so give it the respect that it deserves – it’s a craft!
There is no pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It's a mindset and you will require a huge amount of resilience- but there is no set pattern or formality you can follow. Everyone's journey will be personal to them.
During Covid, our strategy is innovation. You have to think about what going digital means for your business. You want to be Netflix and not Blockbusters. Stay motivated, Come out of your comfort zone with technology, and use applications that can improve your productivity. Try to look at the Strengths and Opportunities this time can have on you and your business – these are extraordinary times – it is easier to dwell on the Weaknesses and Threats.
Thanks so much to Natalia for her blog. Find out more about Straight Talk To Success here.